At last, the summer has ended and my time in Chicago has begun. I arrived in Chicago on the 22nd with Jared and Mercedes after a 15 hour car ride. Since I have not lived in Chicago since the 5th grade, there was so much that I wanted to see and do again or for the first time. It was great having Mercedes here to be able to go out and see the city and do things. While trying to figure out our plans for the day, I found some really amazing, free activities and events that happen in Chicago all the time. There really is so much character to the city of Chicago. Mercedes and I headed to downtown Chicago to roam the city streets. We went to Millennium Park to see the Bean which is really so spectacular. Basically it is just a giant mirror in the shape of a bean. The great thing is that the city is right behind it so it reflects all the buildings. One day we went to the "beach" which is basically the lake with the city behind it. It was absolutely beautiful because the water was really teal and the city was its backdrop. It was really nice because both Mercedes and I have DSLR cameras and so we just kept taking photo after photo. In one day alone, Mercedes took over 700 pictures. But see the city, we did and boy was it spectacular.
Like I mentioned, the city is constantly putting on free events especially during the summer months. Every single night in the summer the city puts on “Movies in the Park” in which three parks are chosen across the city and suburbs of Chicago playing a wide spectrum of movies. A park about two minutes from my apartment was playing “How to Train Your Dragon” and although it was pretty cold, we endured because the movie was so good. Another night we went downtown and stumbled upon this music and dance event that happens every night featuring new dance styles and new DJs. The night we were there it happened to be DJ Casper who is the DJ that did the Cha-Cha Slide. We didn’t really fit into the crowd that was there but it was fun to see him and listen to music that is older than I am right in the heart of downtown. How could anyone get bored in such a city? I really hope I don’t get lazy and stop finding things to do and places to visit. I could be here only till December depending on where I get a job and I want to really enjoy and learn the city.
Then Monday came and classes at the French Pastry School started. I am in the Cake Baking and Decorating program which is the only program in the nation that specializes in just cakes. I can’t begin to explain to you how much I love this school. First of all, it is one of the best schools in the nation. The founder Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer was labeled as one of the top 100 pastry chefs in the world and top ten in America. He has been inducted into quite a few hall of fames for both sugar and chocolate. The highest accomplishment in the pastry world is becoming an M.O.F. or rather a Meilleur Ouvrier de France which basically means the best craftsman in pastry. A competition takes place every four years and in 2008, Chef Jacquy competed in the final round against 15 other competitor s. And although he did not win, a documentary about the competition, The Kings of Pastry, focused on his a career and time in the competition. Another one of the chefs at the French Pastry School and winner of the 2004 Meileur Ouvrier de France is Chef Sébastien Canonne, M.O.F. The letters M.O.F. are always included at the end of his name almost like a PhD or and MD. There are only 114 winners in the world and the competition has been around since 1924. I haven’t had much interaction with him but just knowing he is that good is astounding. Also, I cannot forget my other chefs who are also just as wonderful and who won the National Pastry Competition and are now competing the World Pastry Competition representing the US. Basically I have some of the best pastry chefs and teachers in the world. I am so blessed to be able to attend the French Pastry School.
The first week was all in the classroom and this is the only time throughout the entire program where we will be in a classroom and not in a kitchen. We took an 18 hour sanitation course to get nationally certified in sanitation which spanned over two days and then the rest was orientation and my personal favorite, the science of baking. Since I took so many chemistry courses in college, I absolutely love it and combining that with baking only makes it double my passion. We learned the basic chemical processes that go on with baking powder and soda, wheat, butter, etc. It was fascinating and the teacher is one of my favorite chefs at the school so far. Next week we enter the kitchen and begin learning. I honestly can’t even begin to describe how excited I am to learn everything and gain a bit of these experts’ knowledge. It is truly incredible.